Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will boost the development of an electric air tax fleet in a new deal inked with California-based Archer Aviation, it announced on Tuesday (US time).
The air taxi market is estimated to be with $A2 billion by 2040, with Archer’s plans involve creating an air taxi network to improve mobility in congested cities.
Otherwise know electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) aircraft, stakeholders say they will ease traffic congestion by offering a quiet, sustainable alternative to moving across crowded busy districts.
The new deal will see Archer, which only launched in May 2020, benefit from the supply chain, materials, design and engineering know-how of the auto group which also has the likes of Ram, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati under its umbrella.
It will also accelerate Archer’s timeline considerably, the announcement noted, with a prototype featuring FCA cockpit design elements to be unveiled in early 2021.
Volume production of the Archer eVTOL aircraft will then commence from 2023 – although in which cities they intend to operate has not yet been clarified.
“We’ve been hyper-focused on a customer-first approach to vehicle design and aircraft operations,” said Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer.
“Now we are working with a seasoned, industry-leading automotive partner to leverage cost benefits and experience that will allow Archer to produce thousands of aircraft reliably and affordably every single year.”
Once in production, Archer says the eVTOLs will be able to fly up to 240km on one charge at a speed of 96.5km/hr using a 143kWh usable battery capacity according to the company’s website.
By working with FCA, Archer hopes to significantly reduce the costs of production by scaling up quickly.
“Electrification within the transportation sector, whether on roads or in the air is the future and with any new and rapidly developing technology, scale is important,” said Doug Ostermann, Vice VP and head of global business development of FCA.
“Our partnership with Archer has mutual benefits and will enable innovative, environmentally-friendly transportation solutions to be brought to market at an accelerated pace.”
“We are excited to team up with one of the world’s largest automotive companies on our mission of advancing the benefits of sustainable air mobility,” said Adam Goldstein, fellow co-founder and co-CEO of Archer.
“This is a first-of-its-kind deal for one of Detroit’s Big Three automakers in moving into the Urban Air Mobility space. There is now a clear path for Archer to bring mass production to this industry, changing the way people travel in and around cities forever.”
In 2019, Uber also announced a plan to take to the air with a fleet of air taxis, using the Victorian capital city of Melbourne as one of its testing grounds (or rather, skies).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.